Paper Wings

It will take a well-designed paper plane and an even better throw to break this year’s world record distance.

Students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee took flight on Saturday March 3, 2012 at the Red Bull Paper Wings event and swept the competition.

The event was a paper plane contest held specifically for UWM and Marquette University students at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI and qualifiers are held at more than 600college campuses worldwide.

The competition is separated into regions throughout the United States. According to the Red Bull Website American Joe Ayoob became the man to beat after shattering the world record distance by throwing a paper airplane 226 feet, 10 inches.

The paper was provided to contestants and the planes were designed on site. The competition was judged in three categories: distance, airtime, and acrobatics, which really brought out students’ creativity and competitive nature.

Nick Nowak, a 24-year old UWM student majoring in mechanical engineering and also the head of the UWM ski and snowboard club was the only UWM student to win all three categories at this year’s Paper Wings event.

“Red Bull has always been really supportive of different things that we’ve done with the ski and snowboard club, and I actually did this event three years ago and had a blast, so I made sure to make it back,” Nowak said. “We try to plan a few smaller events for the ski and snowboard club throughout the year and were planning an event with Red Bull later this month.”

This year’s paper wings event gathered 50 UWM and Marquette contestants along with 85 spectators, which was higher than last year’s turnout.

Lexi Peggs, a 22-year old UWM student, said that Paper Wings is an opportunity to focus on something fun and creative, and also involves some rivalry and competition in a friendly manner.

“An event like this benefits the students because it is a recreational activity that embraces our age demographic. It’s creative, fun, and almost rebellious because Red Bull tends to hold events that relate back to everything you weren’t necessarily supposed to be doing in school, like making paper airplanes,” Peggs said.

Previous events put on by Red Bull for UWM students include a movie premiere for a snowboard film titled “The Art of Flight,” an obstacle course created on UWM’s campus involving human hamster balls, a DJ event on North Avenue featuring Lazerdisc Party Sex, and the Red Bull Schlittentag or “sledding day.”

Mike Charboneau, a 28-year old man from West Allis, attended the event to show his support for Red Bull even though he could not compete.

“Red Bull works hard to represent college campuses and the idea of living outside the norm. It’s good to see such a prominent company support higher education and students all over the world,” Charboneau said.

Clearly Nowak has his work cut out for him, but if he can remain in the top five of his region then he will fly to Salzburg, Austria in May to compete for the title against the world’s best paper plane throwers.